As heat waves and other natural disasters ravage the Earth, the likelihood of new wildfires grows greater by the minute. Climate change and wildfires are intrinsically linked, with climate change creating conditions in which it is easier for wildfires to start and refuse to burn out. Wildfires are not only dangerous to our air quality and living conditions, but they devastate the entire surrounding ecosystem as well.
Unfortunately, a series of blazes started in Montana and continue to grow. Here's what to know about the fires in Montana, explained.
Montana kicked off fire season in 2023 with two fires.
Fire season in Montana, which typically lasts between July and September, kicked off with two separate blazes in the western part of the state. The first, dubbed the "Colt Fire," began on July 17, 2023, and by July 21, had grown to over 200 acres, per the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. As of July 28, the fire is 5,252 acres and not contained, according to NBC Montana.
The second fire of the 2023 season began on July 20, 2023, following a lightning storm. Two different fires were initially spotted in the area before they became one blaze, dubbed the "Bowles Creek Fire," after appearing in the Bowles Creek drainage. As of July 24, 2023, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that the fire has burned 1,258 acres and is not contained.
As of July 28, 2023 there are 34 active fires in Montana with eight fires in the past 24 hours, according to a map provided by Montana Fire Info.org. Overall, there have been 876 fires in 2023.
On July 26, 2023, KPAX 8 reported that Northwest Montana would undergo Stage 1 Fire Restrictions as a result of drought conditions in the area, including "extremely dry forest fuels; forecasts of temperatures above normal accompanied by low humidity, wind, and minimal precipitation; and competition for firefighting resources."
Fire Restrictions aim to reduce the risk of more severe or out-of-control wildfires in an area, especially since 70 to 80 percent are human-caused.